Monday, 26 September 2011
Feeling good about myself…or not
When I started teaching group exercise classes at the Y six years ago, I didn’t think it would matter to me whether my classes were big or small. This was primarily to be a chance to connect with the community for the gospel and to supplement our income during some demanding years. I wasn’t some teenager looking to prove myself. I had finished school, raised a family, and served in a variety of ministries. I thought I felt secure in my identity in Christ.
How wrong I was. “How was work today?” An innocent question by my husband would bring a catalog of highs and lows by me, recounting my classes and the attendance or lack thereof. I remember feeling embarrassed when a friend showed up to try out a class and there were only 2 other people there. Once there was no one and I just went home. At least I got paid. Now the tables have turned and my mat class at the Y is very popular. Woohoo…I can hold my head high.
It’s obvious that my joy is tied to my circumstances. Or it is tied to what matters to me in my circumstances. I’m not a big shopper, so I don’t “feel bad about myself” if I wear the same outfit day after day or don’t get a chance to check out the sales. But I do like to perform, especially in front of an appreciative audience. With the applause comes “feeling good about myself.” You might say it is my righteousness. It merits approval. And I tend to rejoice in it.
Philippians 3:1-11 is all about rejoicing…in true righteousness. Paul draws a contrast, between his past record and Christ’s. His past record is impressive. As far as a Jew goes, he is qualified to rise to the top of the heap. He has good reason to boast on a human level. Better than his peers, he must have felt good about himself, and confident in his approval by God.
But now he had come to “glory in Christ Jesus.” Coming to know Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection had turned his world upside down. Jesus wasn’t just a jewel to add to the crown he already had, he was the crown itself. By contrast Paul saw that his past record was, literally, “crap”! Not something to treasure as a keepsake, but something to flush and forget. There was no comparison. The record of Jesus isn’t just good, it is PERFECT. It merits God’s approval. And it is given, free of charge, as a gift to anyone who believes.
Here’s how John Owen puts it in a run on sentence with no commas, “Christ lived and died in order to work out a perfect righteousness for his people. He then tells them what he has done and finally he actually gives this righteousness to them and regards them as if they had worked out this righteousness for themselves, so that by this righteousness they will be perfectly accepted with the Father.” (my emphasis). It’s a no-brainer to flush my accomplishments, moral or worldly, to receive this gift!
So my sisters, rejoice in the Lord! Trash your qualifications, whether being a good mother or a great cook or an asset to your company or a savvy dresser, and receive the qualifications of Another that you could never have earned. It’s yours. Rejoice in Him!